Articles Tagged with oil and gas private placements

shutterstock_132317306The securities lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against Mark Wesley (Wesley) alleging unsuitable investments, negligence, and breach of fiduciary duty among other claims.  According to brokercheck records Wesley has been subject to six customer complaints.  Some of the complaints involve direct participation products (DPPs), oil and gas private placements, variable annuities, non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), and other alternative investments.

In June 2016, Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. (Ameriprise) permitted Wesley to resign alleging that he was under suspension for compliance policy violations related to unauthorized trading, use of discretion in a non-discretionary account, supervision of staff and responding to supervision.

In addition, Wesley has been subject to five tax liens totaling millions of dollars.  A broker’s inability to handle their personal finances has also been found to be relevant in helping investors determine if they should allow the broker to handle their finances.

shutterstock_158028338The securities lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Mickey Long (Long). According to BrokerCheck records Long is subject to nine customer complaints. The customer complaints against Long allege securities law violations that including unsuitable investments, misrepresentations, and breach of fiduciary duty among other claims.   The claims appear to relate to allegations regard direct participation products and limited partnerships such as equipment leasing and non-traded real estate investment trusts (Non-Traded REITs). Other products complained of include oil and gas private placements.

Our firm has represented many clients in these types of products. All of these investments come with high costs and historically have under performed even safe benchmarks, like U.S. treasury bonds. For example, investors are destined to lose money in equipment leasing programs like LEAF Equipment Leasing Income Funds I-IV and ICON Leasing Funds Eleven and Twelve. The high costs and fees associated with these investments make significant returns virtual impossibility. Yet for all of their costs investors are in no way compensated for the additional risks of these products.

Brokers have a responsibility treat investors fairly which includes obligations such as making only suitable investments for the client. In order to make a suitable recommendation the broker must meet certain requirements. First, there must be reasonable basis for the recommendation the product or security based upon the broker’s investigation and due diligence into the investment’s properties including its benefits, risks, tax consequences, and other relevant factors. Second, the broker then must match the investment as being appropriate for the customer’s specific investment needs and objectives such as the client’s retirement status, long or short term goals, age, disability, income needs, or any other relevant factor.

shutterstock_146470052The investment attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating the potential unsuitable sales of securities sponsored by Bradford Energy Capital (Bradford).  Bradford claims on its website that the company was formed in 1994 to focus on creating investment opportunities in the the oil and natural gas industry.  Bradford Exploration, Inc., Bradford Energy, LLC, and Bradford Energy Capital, LLC have been the managing general partner of 42 limited partnerships which investing more than $270 million in approximately 2,000 oil and natural gas wells, natural gas processing plants, natural gas pipelines, mineral leases, and royalty interests.  Bradford is active in the Appalachian Basin, the Illinois Basin, the Permian and the Western Gulf Basins, and the Williston Basin.

The company sponsors many oil and gas private placements and investments that incorporate Bradford Drilling Associates into the name.  According to public disclosures, brokerage firms that sell Bradford oil and gas interests include Centarus Financial Inc., Commonwealth Financial Network, Sigma Financial Corporation, Sammons Securities, Madison Avenue Securities, Inc, M Financial Holdings Securities, Inc., Lincoln Investment Planning, Berthel Fsher & Company Financial Services Inc., Kalos Capital, Inc., G.F. Investment Services LLC, and Sethi Financial among others.

Investors often do not understand the substantial risks of oil and gas limited partnerships and private placements.  As recently reported in Reuters, when offerings by Atlas Energy LP, another issuer of oil and gas private placements were analyzed, investors only get to see 65-70% of their capital actually put to work on oil and gas projects.  Further, the returns on these projects had more in common with running profitable casinos than investments. Reuters found that slightly more than half of 43 private placements Atlas issued over the past three decades investors lost money or just broke even. While investors lost in more than half of the deals in 29 or 67% of those deals, Atlas actually out-performed their own investors.

shutterstock_143094109The securities lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Daniel McPherson (McPherson). According to BrokerCheck records McPherson is subject to two customer complaints. The customer complaints against McPherson allege securities law violations that including unsuitable investments, misrepresentations, and breach of fiduciary duty among other claims.   The claims appear to relate to allegations regard direct participation products and limited partnerships such as equipment leasing and non-traded real estate investment trusts (Non-Traded REITs). Other products complained of include oil and gas private placements and tenant-in–common (TIC) investments.

Our firm has written numerous times about investor losses in these types of programs and private placement securities. All of these investments come with costs that make profiting from the investment extremely unlikely. For example, investors are destined to lose money in equipment leasing programs like LEAF Equipment Leasing Income Funds I-IV and ICON Leasing Funds Eleven and Twelve. The high costs and fees associated with these investments make significant returns virtual impossibility. Yet for all of their costs investors are in no way compensated for the additional risks of these products.

Brokers have a responsibility treat investors fairly which includes obligations such as making only suitable investments for the client. In order to make a suitable recommendation the broker must meet certain requirements. First, there must be reasonable basis for the recommendation the product or security based upon the broker’s investigation and due diligence into the investment’s properties including its benefits, risks, tax consequences, and other relevant factors. Second, the broker then must match the investment as being appropriate for the customer’s specific investment needs and objectives such as the client’s retirement status, long or short term goals, age, disability, income needs, or any other relevant factor.

shutterstock_20354401The securities lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating potential unsuitable investments and recommendations in a number of oil and gas related ventures including Adageo Energy. According to the company’s website Adageo Energy specializes in high-growth, high-return opportunities in the energy sector. The company’s focus includes the identification, acquisition, drilling, development, and operation of oil and gas properties. Adageo Energy is a sponsor of several oil and gas private placements.

One such issuance is Adageo Energy Partners, LP which according to SEC filings sought to raise $50 million and raised at least $31 million of that amount through brokerage firms including Direct Capital Securities, Inc., Madison Avenue Securities, Inc., WFP Securities, Inc., Arete Wealth Management, LLC, Newbridge Securities Corporation, Charter Pacific Securities, LLC, ePLANNING Securities, Inc., Sunset Financial Services, Inc., Jesup & Lamont Securities Corp., and Capital Guardian, LLC.

As reported in Reuters for issuers other than Adageo Energy, many of these types of private placement deals fail and investors take outsized risks compared to the scant compensation they are likely to receive. The issue with oil and gas private placements is two fold. First the much of the investor’s funds are eaten up by fees and costs and are never used for investment purposes. For instance and analysis of Atlas Energy LP found that the issuer typically charged between 15 percent and 20 percent in upfront fees from investors and paid brokers an additional 10 percent of the total offering in sales commissions. According to Reuters, investors only get to see 65-70% of their capital actually put to work on oil and gas projects.

shutterstock_175835072The investment fraud attorneys with Gana Weinstein LLP continue investigate oil and gas and commodities related investment losses. Investors may have potential legal remedies due to unsuitable recommendations by their broker to invest in this speculative and volatile area. Goldman Sachs MLP and Energy Renaissance Fund (Ticker Symbol: GER) is a Master Limited Partnership (MLP) closed-end mutual fund. The Fund opened at about $20 per share in September 2014. However, since that time, due to the fund’s holdings in MLPs, the value for the fund has plummeted to $4.19 representing an almost 80% loss.

About 86% of the total MLP securities market, a $490 billion sector, can be attributed to energy and natural resource companies. According to Bloomberg, many oil companies are in trouble and are going bankrupt as U.S. high-yield debt issued to junk-rated energy companies grew four-fold to $208 billion. The bankruptcies have been devastating causing forced selling at fire sale prices.

Moreover, our firm has been receiving an alarming number of complaints concerning how these speculative investments are being marketed and sold to investors. Often times these products are pitched as ways to ride the boom in U.S. oil and gas production and receive steady streams of income. However, in the past year, investors have lost $20 billion in publicly traded in master limited partnerships and publicly traded oil funds. This amounts to an astonishing $8 of every $10 they had invested, according to a report prepared for The Associated Press article. The research does not include losses from $37 billion of bonds sold by the partnerships in the five years since 2010 or losses from private placement partnerships. However, banks like Citigroup, Barclays, and Wells Fargo made an estimated $1.1 billion in fees for selling these products to investors.

shutterstock_168478292The investment lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating customer complaints against broker Harris Kirk (Kirk). There are at least 3 customer complaints against Kirk. In addition, there is one employment separation disclosed and a FINRA investigation. Some of the customer complaints appear to be related to recommendation of oil and gas private placements and investments likely offered by Reef Oil and Gas Companies.   The investment attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP continue to report on investor losses and unsuitable investments in oil and gas related investments, like Reef Oil and Gas.

The employment termination from Reef Securities, Inc. (Reef) came in September 2013 after the firm alleged that Kirk engaged in actions inconsistent with the firm’s policies in that Kirk provided inaccurate information concerning his outside business activities. Thereafter, Kirk was employed by Chestnut Exploration Partners, Inc. until February 2015 at which time he was once again associated with Reef.

Investors often do not appreciate the risks when investing in oil and gas private placements. Even before the collapse of oil prices it was rare for investors to make money on oil deals. According to Reuters, of 34 deals Reef Oil and Gas has issued since 1996, only 12 have paid out more cash to investors than they initially contributed. Reuters also found that Reef sold an additional 31 smaller deals between 1996 and 2010 taking $146 million from investors and only paying out just $55 million.

shutterstock_168478292Atlas Energy Group (NYSE:ATLS) is the general partner of Atlas Resource Partners (NYSE:ARP), a sponsor of oil and gas private placements and investments.   The investment attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP continue to report on investor losses in oil and gas related investments, like Atlas.

Atlas Energy Group and Atlas Resource Partners stock have both completely collapsed recently with both losing over 95% of their value over the past 2 years. Trying to unravel the business of the Atlas entities is nearly impossible. Even Atlas’ website fails to provide any meaningful understanding as to the business.

The website states that the business of Atlas Energy involves the ownership of: 1) 100% general partner interest and incentive distribution rights of Atlas Resource Partners, LP an exploration and production MLP; 2) 25 million ARP units, which includes ~21 million common units and 3.75 million Class C Preferred units in ARP; 3) 80% general partner interest and incentive distribution rights, as well as an 8% limited partner interest in Atlas Energy’s E&P Development Subsidiary; 4) 16% general partner interest and 12% limited partner interest in Lightfoot Capital Partners, which has a 40% limited partner interest in Arc Logistics Partners LP (NYSE: ARCX), an independent U.S.-based energy logistics service provider. Did this description clarify things?

shutterstock_140321293Reef Oil and Gas Companies located in Richardson, Texas, is a sponsor of oil and gas private placements and investments.   The investment attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP continue to report on investor losses in oil and gas related investments, like Reef Oil and Gas.

Investors often do not appreciate the risks when investing in oil and gas private placements. Even before the collapse of oil prices it was rare for investors to make money on oil deals. According to Reuters, of 34 deals Reef Oil and Gas has issued since 1996, only 12 have paid out more cash to investors than they initially contributed. Reuters also found that Reef sold an additional 31 smaller deals between 1996 and 2010 taking $146 million from investors and only paying out just $55 million.

If investments in oil and gas private placements rarely succeed during oil booms, then they will certainly fail under current market conditions. According to Bloomberg, many oil companies are in trouble as U.S. high-yield debt issued to junk-rated energy companies grew four-fold to $208 billion. Most of these companies are now struggling to stay afloat with oil prices at $45. Many of these companies relied upon high energy prices in order to sustain their operations. As reported by the Wall Street Journal the drop in oil and energy prices and the industry downturn has made it difficult for many companies to refinance their debts.

shutterstock_182053859The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) recently sanctioned brokerage firm Foothill Securities, Inc. (Foothill) alleging between May 17, 2010, and September 16, 2012, Foothill did not have an adequate supervisory system and written procedures to monitor its securities business, failed to follow the supervisory system, and failed to establish and enforce policies reasonably designed to supervise the firm’s securities business. Also included in FIRNA’s complaint was Stephen Shipp, Jr. (Shipp), as CCO of Foothill, FINRA alleged that he was responsible for the firm’s supervisory system, its written procedures, and the enforcement of its supervisory system causing the violations.

Foothill is a dually registered broker-dealer and investment advisor firm and has been a member of FINRA since 1962. The firm has approximately 255 registered brokers operating from approximately 138 branch offices. The firm conducts a general securities business in the following products: equities, mutual funds, corporate and municipal debt, US government securities, oil and gas interests, options, private placements, direct participation programs, and variable contracts.

FINRA alleged that Foothill’s supervisory procedures were deficient in many ways. A small sample of FINRA’s findings include that between May 17, 2010 and September 16, 2012, Foothill acting through Shipp: (1) heavily relied upon a proprietary data system for the supervision of its brokers securities transactions but that the trading information captured by the proprietary system was not consistently accurate or complete; (2) allowed nine of its ”dual Office of Supervisory Jurisdiction branch offices to have two producing managers supervise each other’s activities, even though this supervisory structure is prohibited under the FINRA Rules; (3) had an inadequate supervisory system relating to the heightened supervision of its producing managers; (4) the firm’s procedures required all producing managers’ correspondence to be forwarded to the home office for review and approval by the CCO but that procedures failed to specify the details of what the CCO’s correspondence reviews would entail and how the reviews would be evidenced; (5) at least one producing manager never sent any of his correspondence to the CCO for review or approval which was not caught by the firm; (6) failed to adequately and accurately disclose the required details of certain outside business activities of its brokers in 34 of 87 sampled disclosures; (7) failed to timely update its registered representatives disclosures in at least 13 instances; (8) failed to timely file five customer complaints, and four other customer related disclosures with FINRA; (9) failed to evidence the daily review and approval of daily reports of approved private securities transactions for one of its registered representatives